About Us

Who We Are:

Erik Waterland

Erik Waterland, DPT practices as he lives. True to himself. With a diverse background from ballet to soccer to distance running, he takes both clinical and life experiences and applies them to the patient in front of him. His holistic practice extends beyond the physical barriers to wellness, looking at all aspects needed to optimize physical performance.

Erik is a Tacoma native who happily calls Grit City home. Since beginning clinical practice in 2005, he has always done everything to provide the absolute best care to his patients. In recent years, insurance companies have made providing this exceptional level of care exceedingly difficult if not impossible in some settings. That’s why in December of 2019, Erik decided to demand better and set off on his own without looking back. Since starting Waterland Performance, he has seen how care outside the confines of insurance bureaucracy really allows patients to thrive. He is able to meet each client exactly where they’re at on that given day to provide optimal care.

He and his wife Keri are Tacoma natives, staying busy in the community through volunteering, running the trails at point defiance, and participating in local events. Erik is also employed by the University of Puget Sound’s physical therapy department as a clinical instructor and the Tacoma Stars professional indoor soccer team as Director of Health and Fitness.

Ashton Kirks

Ashton Kirks, PTA, believes in the transformative power of physical wellness and is dedicated to helping those around her to set and achieve performance goals. No matter where their journey is beginning from, Ashton provides the highest level of care and attention to her patients with a holistic philosophy that focuses on whole-body, long-term health results.

As a mother of a young child, Ashton is passionate about helping women stay strong during their prenatal and postpartum journeys. She understands first-hand the roles physical fitness and strength play in preventing and minimizing common pregnancy complaints, and ensuring a timely recovery in the postpartum period. These therapies are woefully underrepresented in American healthcare, and she is determined to change that.

Ashton is originally from Kansas but moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2014 where she met her husband. She has nearly a decade of clinical physical therapy experience and has been working alongside Erik Waterland, DPT since 2017. She is thrilled to be a part of Waterland Performance and support the mission of treating patients outside the restrictive guidelines of traditional insurance.

Denali Pavlich-Wheeler, DPT became a physical therapist because she was fascinated by the universal nature of bodies. While many bodies share biomechanical qualities, Denali recognizes that there are various other aspects of the human body that are unique to the person in front of her. She believes that physical therapy should reflect these differences and be tailored to you. She takes into consideration your values, hobbies, work, recreational activities, family, friends, important life events, joys, and stresses to tailor your rehabilitation journey. As a part of individualized care, it is imperative to Denali that she affirms all bodies from a Health at Every Size paradigm. Operating outside of the confines of the traditional insurance-based model of healthcare means that she has the time, energy, and resources to provide this type of individualized care.

Denali takes an active approach to your care and implements evidence-based exercise and movement interventions. Her background as a group fitness instructor also means that sessions with her are meaningful, empowering, and fun. Ultimately, she believes that physical therapy is a collaborative process, and she encourages her clients to take the primary role in their recovery. She can act as a guide, but you are in the driver’s seat and have the power to make the choices that are right for you.

Denali is a proud lifelong member of the Tacoma community and Coug alum. She enjoys exploring the Northwest via the outdoors, food trucks, coffee shops, and breweries with her friends, family, and everyone’s dogs. She has always loved movement and grew up trying every sport at least once. Now, she engages in a variety of movement – running, long walks with the dog, playing soccer and kickball, lifting weights, teaching group fitness classes, practicing yoga, taking hikes, traveling, and attempting to snowboard. She also enjoys the beach, reading, concerts, and watching the sun set.


To provide the highest quality physical therapy, training and education to all people outside of the endlessly restrictive insurance guidelines in order to improve performance in all aspects of life while optimizing holistic wellness.


It’s no secret that insurance companies care more about the bottom line than truly getting patients better. Every year, the hoops that have to be jumped through become more numerous. At some point you have to say enough is enough and fight for what’s best. At Waterland performance, we believe that practicing outside of insurance restrictions allows for the absolute highest quality of care to be provided to patients. We are free to address any and all of your health and wellness concerns without the restrictive guidelines of insurance. We pride ourselves on giving each client one on one attention that meets their needs at that moment. From the new mover to the seasoned athlete, we will help and guide you through an individualized plan to achieve your goals. With guidance every step of the way, we’ll help bring your dreams to life.